The Best National Bike Summit Yet
March 13, 2008
The 2008 National Bike Summit, held March 4-7 in Washington, D.C., was the best one yet. More than 500 people attended this eighth edition, including a record number of suppliers and retailers. Bikes Belong was well represented by more than 20 Coalition and Foundation board and staff members. Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Barrasso (R-WY), and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) attended our BikesPAC reception and dinner on Capitol Hill. Hearing Mr. Coleman and Ms. Klobuchar speak positively (and side by side) about bicycling was a great bike-partisan moment. Congressman DeFazio loves cycling—he used to be a bike mechanic—and he is becoming a senior member of the House of Representatives. Bikes Belong, the Summit’s title sponsor, was prominent throughout the week. We led several panel discussions, including one on bicycling for short trips in big U.S. cities, another on Bicycle Friendly Communities, and a third on Safe Routes to School. The Summit nearly filled the theater at the Ronald Reagan Center for the first time. Nearly all of the breakout sessions were packed—standing-room only. On Wednesday night, each of the half dozen special events was well attended (including the League of American Bicyclists annual meeting; an IMBA delegation gathering; a Thunderhead Alliance reception to introduce their new president, Jeffrey Miller of Maine; a Trek dealer reception; an NBDA reception; and our BikesPAC event). Several hundred Congressional visits were made by the Summit delegation on Thursday. We asked members of Congress to support Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s national bicycling strategy resolution (see below), back the National Park Service’s Centennial Initiative, support Complete Streets legislation, and join the Congressional Bike Caucus. Bikes Belong awarded more than $15,000 in Summit scholarships to suppliers, retailers, and advocates. NBDA awarded $25,000 in scholarships to retailers. IMBA—thanks to a Bikes Belong grant—awarded several scholarships to mountain bike advocates. Trek CEO John Burke received the League’s John Torosian fundraising award for Trek’s contributions to the Bicycle Friendly Community program through their One World, Two Wheels campaign. Perhaps the best feature of this Summit was the participation of leaders from healthcare, real estate and transit businesses. Bicycling is developing new, powerful support. David Jones, Jr., the chairman of board of Humana, expressed his company’s strong commitment to bicycling during his opening dinner speech. Congratulations to the League of American Bicyclists and all of the Summit’s sponsors, partners, and participants. Collectively we’re aiming for 1,000 participants in 2009. We will need your help!
Here’s how the League of American Bicyclists summarized the event:
Record-Setting Summit Heralds Resolution; Complete Streets Bill; More Bicycling The eighth National Bike Summit concluded on Capitol Hill Thursday, March 6 with a rousing call to action from Representatives James Oberstar (D-MN) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and with the announcement that Congressional staff themselves will benefit from a pioneering bike-sharing program later this spring. Rep. Blumenauer introduced H. Con. Res. 305, supporting the creation of a national bicycling strategy, immediately prior to the Summit with the co-sponsorship of Oberstar. Hundreds of visits with Congressional offices by the record number of Summit participants yielded immediate results with several new cosponsors coming on board, including the influential Rep. John Duncan, (R-TN). In their Senate visits, Summiteers urged support for Senator Harkin’s (D-IA) newly introduced Complete Streets Act of 2008 (S. 2686), and welcomed Senator John Kerry to the ranks of the Senate Bike Caucus. The caucus also gained new leadership with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-RI) agreeing to co-chair the group with Senator Durbin (D-IL). One of the loudest cheers of the three-day Summit greeted the announcement of a Capitol Hill bike-sharing program by House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard. Under the program to be launched “no later than bike week in May,” staff and members will be able to use a fleet of bikes to get between House office buildings, to run errands and get exercise. Beard was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists for his leadership in promoting bicycling as part of his Greening the Capitol initiative. “We are delighted the Summit exceeded last year’s record attendance figures by almost 100 people, and that for almost half the participants this was their first Summit,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “More than 70 local bicycle dealers, the CEOs of the biggest brand names in bicycling, on- and off-road bicyclists all join together at this unique event to speak up for bicycling. “We heard a consistent message from the opening speaker, David Jones Jr., chairman of the board of Humana, to the heads of AASHTO and APTA, the Director of the District Department of Transportation Emeka Monomee, and our Congressional champions that this a perfect time for our message to be heard," Clarke continued. "Gas prices are rising again, the effects of climate change are becoming more evident daily, obesity levels continue to rise, and our transportation system is in need of major change.”